Chase Briscoe keeps moving closer to championship goal


LAS VEGAS — While few may have expected Chase Briscoe to make it this far in the Cup playoffs, he looks ahead to a championship he could win in four weeks.

“I think you need to think about it,” said Briscoe, who starts 16th in today’s Round of 8 race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (2:30 p.m. ET on NBC).

“If you can’t think about it, you probably don’t think you have shot in the first place. I feel like we have a shot.”

He has a one-in-eight shot. That’s better than the start of the season when he was one of 36 drivers with a chance. 

Not many forecasted him as a title contender after scoring only three top-10 finishes last year in his rookie campaign. But Briscoe started well this season, placing third in the Daytona 500 and winning at Phoenix in March. His struggles, though, soon followed. 

MORE: Details for Las Vegas Cup playoff race 

He entered the playoffs with one top-10 finish in the last 18 races in the regular season and then failed to score a top 10 in any of the three races in the opening round. 

But in this unpredictable season that has seen the playoffs just as chaotic, Briscoe advanced because two-time Cup champion Kyle Busch suffered two engine failures in the round and was eliminated, as was former champion Kevin Harvick, Tyler Reddick and Austin Dillon.

An example of how these playoffs have followed no logical path, Briscoe scored three consecutive top 10s in the second round to earn the last transfer spot, eliminating reigning champion Kyle Larson by two points.

“This whole thing is unpredictable,” Briscoe said. “The playoffs in any sport, you see teams all the time that have not been the greatest in the regular their season kind of squeak in and they make this huge run to the playoffs when it matters the most. It’s the team that is the best in the playoffs, not the whole season, at least in this format.”

That gives Briscoe hope.

“I feel like we’ve really turned it on in the playoffs,” he said. “I feel like I’ve been racing my best races throughout the playoffs, it’s just a matter of putting it all together.”

Should he do well Sunday, it would help lighten the mood at Stewart-Haas Racing, which has been penalized by NASCAR each of the past two weeks.

After Talladega, Kevin Harvick’s car was among two taken back to the R&D Center for further inspection. Series officials found an impropriety with the rear deck lid. NASCAR suspended crew chief Rodney Childers four races and fined him $100,000. Harvick was docked 100 points. 

After last weekend’s race at the Charlotte Roval, NASCAR penalized Cole Custer and his team for manipulating the finish when he slowed dramatically on the final lap when Briscoe was nearby. NASCAR fined Custer $100,000 and 50 points and indefinitely suspended crew chief Mike Shiplett. Stewart-Haas Racing is appealing the penalty.

And this week, SHR’s Xfinity hauler, carrying the cars and equipment for Riley Herbst had an accident on the way to Las Vegas. No one was seriously injured.

“It’s been a rough tough couple of weeks for Stewart-Haas Racing,” Briscoe said. “Glad that we could be that one kind of light. … Definitely trying to keep the spirits up there.”

Nothing would be better for the organization than Briscoe advancing. 

He can see it. 

NASCAR Power Rankings: William Byron, Kyle Busch rank 1-2


Kyle Busch moved closer to the top spot after his win Sunday at WWT Raceway, but William Byron keeps hold of No. 1 after another top-10 run.

The series heads to Sonoma Raceway this weekend, the second race of the season on a road course.


(Previous ranking in parenthesis)

1. William Byron (1) — He goes into Sonoma with six consecutive top-10 finishes after his eighth-place result at WWT Raceway. Byron has led a series-high 717 laps this season.

2. Kyle Busch (4) — Recorded his third win of the season Sunday. He is tied with Byron for most wins this year. Busch scored 59 of a maximum 60 points and won his first stage of the year Sunday. He has 16 playoff points. Only Byron has more with 17 this season.

3. Kyle Larson (3) — His fourth-place finish continued his up-and-down season. In the last nine races, Larson has two wins, four top fives, a 20th-place result and four finishes of 30th or worse. He has led 588 laps this season, which ranks second this year to Byron.

4. Martin Truex Jr. (2) — His fifth-place finish is his sixth top 10 in the last eight races. He ranks third in laps led this year with 383.

5. Denny Hamlin (7) — Runner-up result at WWT Raceway is his fourth top 10 in the last seven races.

6. Ryan Blaney (10) — Followed Coca-Cola 600 win with a sixth-place run at WWT Raceway. He had an average running position of 2.6 on Sunday, second only to winner Kyle Busch’s average running position of 1.9.

7. Joey Logano (9) — Third-place finish is his second top 10 in the last four races.

8. Kevin Harvick (NR) — His 10th-place finish is his fourth consecutive finish of 11th or better.

9. Ross Chastain (6) — Lost the points lead after placing 22nd, his third consecutive finish outside the top 20.

10. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (NR) — Headed for his eighth top 15 in a row until he was collected in a crash after the contact between Austin Cindric and Austin Dillon late in Sunday’s race.

Dropped out: Chase Elliott (5th), Tyler Reddick (8th)

NASCAR will not penalize Austin Cindric for incident with Austin Dillon


Despite Richard Childress and Austin Dillon saying that Austin Cindric intentionally wrecked Dillon late in Sunday’s Cup race at WWT Raceway, NASCAR will not penalize Cindric.

Elton Sawyer, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, said Tuesday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that there would be no penalty to Cindric after reviewing the contact.

Dillon and Childress were upset about the incident, which brought out the caution on Lap 220 of the 243-lap race. Dillon said NASCAR should suspend Cindric for the contact, just as NASCAR suspended Chase Elliott one race for hooking Denny Hamlin in the Coca-Cola 600.

Contact between the left front of Cindric’s car and the right rear of Dillon’s car sent Dillon up the track into Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Dillon finished 31st. Cindric continued and placed 13th.

Dillon told “I was wrecked intentionally by (Cindric), hooked right just like Chase and Denny and Bubba’s deal (in wrecking Kyle Larson at Las Vegas in 2022). He better be suspended next week.”

Childress said: “(Dillon) had drove up to about 10th until (Cindric) wrecked him in there on purpose, sort of a payback.”

Sawyer said a review of the incident included viewing video and data.

“We didn’t see anything — and haven’t seen anything — that really would rise to a level that would be a suspension or a penalty,” Sawyer said. “It looked like hard racing. One car coming up a little bit and another car going down.

“As we said last week, we take these incidents very serious when we see cars that are turned head-on into another car or head-on into the wall. I spent a lot of time (Monday) looking at that, looking at all the data, looking at TV footage and just deemed this one really hard racing.”

Sawyer said NASCAR plans to talk to both Cindric and Dillon “to make sure we’re all in a good place as we move forward to Sonoma.”



Seven Cup drivers entered in Xfinity race at Sonoma


Kyle Larson is among seven Cup drivers entered in Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at Sonoma Raceway.

The race marks the first time the Xfinity Series has competed at the California road course. Teams will get 50 minutes of practice Friday because this is a new event on the schedule. That additional time will give those Cup drivers more laps on the 1.99-mile road course.

MORE: Sonoma Xfinity entry list

Here is a look at what Xfinity rides the Cup drivers will pilot this weekend:

The race is scheduled to start at 8 p.m. ET Saturday.

The ARCA Menards Series West also is competing this weekend at Sonoma Raceway. Cup driver Ryan Preece is entered in that event. Xfinity drivers Cole Custer, Riley Herbst, Sammy Smith and Parker Retzlaff also are entered in that race, which will be held at 6:30 p.m. ET Friday.


Winners and losers at WWT Raceway


Winners and losers from Sunday’s Cup race at WWT Raceway:


Kyle BuschWins the pole, leads the most laps and holds the field off over the last five restarts to win the race. He scored six playoff points, giving him 16 on the season, second only to William Byron’s 17. Busch left Joe Gibbs Racing after last season for Richard Childress Racing. Busch’s three wins this year equals what JGR has done so far.

Ryan BlaneyHis sixth-place finish moved him into the points lead. He last led the points after the spring 2022 Richmond race. Blaney also won a stage Sunday to collect another playoff point. He has seven this season.

Kyle LarsonFourth-place finish was a big turnaround after struggles earlier in the race. It has not been easy for this team the last few weeks. He has three top-five finishes and four finishes of 20th or worse in the last seven races.

Daniel SuarezHis seventh-place finish moved him up two spots to 16th in the standings, the final playoff transfer spot at this time.


Ross ChastainHe finished 22nd for his third consecutive result outside the top 20. He entered the weekend leading the points and fell to fifth afterward. He is 29 points behind new series leader Ryan Blaney with 11 races left in the regular season.

Tyler ReddickRebounded from an early spin to lead but had his race end after a brake rotor failed. He was one of four drivers eliminated by brake rotor failures. The others were Carson Hocevar, Bubba Wallace and Noah Gragson.